FDA Should Require Comparative Testing of Prescription Drugs, Editorials Say
Two recent editorials address whether the FDA should require comparative tests of similar drugs to determine safety and effectiveness. Following are summaries.
Los Angeles Times: Because current regulations require the FDA to compare new drugs only to a placebo for safety and effectiveness, patients and doctors cannot "tell whether the costly cholesterol medicine that just hit the market is really better than the pennies-a-pill generic they've been taking," a Times editorial states. Congress has "done little to help researchers compare prescription medications" because drug companies, which contributed nearly $27 million to politicians in the 2002 election cycle, "don't want it," the Times contends. Lawmakers should pass a bill (HR 2356) sponsored by Reps. Thomas Allen (D-Maine) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) that would "provide modest federal funding for independent comparisons," the editorial states, adding, "In a nation spending more than $140 billion a year on prescription drugs, the tests can't come soon enough" (Los Angeles Times, 9/7).
- Providence Journal: "With the government about to pick up prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries, the public has a right to know what it is getting for its tax dollars"; however, the drug industry has mounted an "absurd campaign" to prevent federally funded comparative testing of drugs, a Journal editorial maintains. The drug industry claims that federal funding of head-to-head drug testing is rationing health care, but private insurers "perform such studies all the time," the editorial states, adding, "If private industry is allowed to avoid wasteful spending, why can't the taxpayers?" The editorial concludes, "Getting a grip on what we spend on prescription drugs is but one step in bringing some rationality into U.S. medicine," adding, "The pharmaceutical industry should begin to understand that things are about to change" (Providence Journal, 9/7).